The federal government’s family-oriented budget released this week also included benefits for people with HIV and their carers.

The federal government has allocated $8.5 million to ensure submissions for new drugs to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee are evaluated in a timely manner, a boon for people with HIV awaiting the latest medications.

Carer allowances were also made available to carers who do not live with those they assist, including for those who help people with HIV. The Government is also increasing funds over several years to deal with HIV/AIDS in the Asia Pacific.

ACON president Adrian Lovney and Executive Director of AFAO Don Baxter welcomed the changes, although Baxter told SSO there was a case for further funding given rising rates in HIV infection.

The budget includes a new maternity payment for every mother on the birth of a child. Lesbian mothers will be entitled to receive a lump sum of $3000 from 1 July.

Democrats Senator Brian Greig told Sydney Star Observer that ironically the lack of same-sex partnership recognition meant such couples with children will gain a financial benefit. Clearly the Coalition is greatly encouraging and funding more same-sex couples with children. It’s wonderful to see, Greig laughed.

Extra funding for the Government’s values, civics and citizenship education initiatives has provoked an expression of concern from ACON that the program might encourage homophobia.

There is not a substantial amount of evidence that shows that the Howard government is favourable to the rights of gay men and lesbians, Lovney told the Star, citing government staffer Kevin Donnelly’s criticisms this week of sex education which presented positive aspects to gay lifestyles.

Equal Rights Network spokesperson Rodney Croome said the education program was not a threat.

In my experience in Tasmania, that money has been channelled into promoting values of inclusion, tolerance, acceptance and diversity, Croome said. I’d welcome it, as long as we can ensure that LGBT services on the ground help to ensure that funding is well spent.

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